Image courtesy of FreeRange and Chance Agrella

Image courtesy of FreeRange and Chance Agrella

It’s a known fact that a house located in a neighborhood within a good local school district impacts how much that house is worth. A good school district makes an area more desirable and sought-after by families wanting to give their kids (or future kids) a good education. Of course, that elevated desirability comes with a price tag: homes cost more to buy. The upside is that also means they resell for more, too. If you’re about to move, here are five steps you can take to research your new school district:

  1. Make your wish list. First and foremost, decide what your “non-negotiables” are for your new school district. For example, if you have a child passionate about sports, you want to make sure the schools you’re looking at have good programs. Realize you may not get all you want, but having a set of goals will help you filter out possibilities.
  1. Ask someone who knows. Especially if you’re moving to a completely new state, city, or part of town, chances are you won’t have a working knowledge of the local schools. Find reliable sources to ask questions, like a community of friends you can draw on. Another excellent source is your real estate agent; they know their area inside and out and can answer most of your questions or direct you to resources that will.
  1. Use online research resources and tools. There are a whole bunch of free online resources you can use to research your new school district. A few of the top places to start are:

• National Center for Education Statistics: Statistics about each school district, as well as a database with information about the grades taught at each school, any affiliations, and data on the student body.
• GreatSchools: Provides a rating for each school and information on test scores, programs, teacher reviews, and parental involvement.
• SchoolDigger: A great site to use to compare schools side-by-side.
• ParentsForPublicSchools: A chapter-based community you can connect with to be more involved in the school your child attends.
• GlobalReportCard: Gives you a demographic of the school district’s performance in math and reading.

  1. Research the school district’s information. Each school district will vary in how well-done and thorough their online information is, but it’s certainly a piece of information you don’t want to overlook. Some districts may even have social media pages – Facebook, Twitter, or a YouTube channel – where you can get a more “real time” feel about who the teachers are and how the schools work.
  1. Visit schools in your new school district. While you can learn a lot by talking to people and doing your own research, nothing can replace getting a first-hand feel for your new school district by visiting the schools yourself. If at all possible, arrange a time to meet teachers and admin staff to ask questions and test the waters for yourself.

If you’re a buyer looking for a new home in a new school district, these five steps will help you make the right choice about which neighborhood to live in. If you’re a seller, doing this research on the school district you’re in will help you uncover more sellable points about the location of your home to talk up to potential buyers. Either way, if you live in the Portland area, I would love to talk to you if you have any more questions about the local Portland school districts!

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